scene: a dowager duchess is in the process of investigating the suitability of a
young man; a Masonic playwright places upon her lips the words, “Are you from the purple of commerce or have you risen from the ranks of
the aristocracy?” Surely, a no more stunning enquiry has ever emanated
from the English mother tongue.
why those in the emerging mother Grand Lodge of England assumed that it would be
led by blood royals indicates that perhaps they knew something that we do not.
Hopefully, academics and conspiracy theorists may, in their different ways,
point to an enlightened interpretation.
as the UGLE has the benefit of royal leadership, it might be interesting to
consider what is coming down from “the ranks”.
providing guidelines for the interviewing of petitioners, there is a royal
exhortation to “….explain our
Freemasonry in a way that fits the twenty-first century and why it will be
relevant to the candidate. That
will allow us a better chance of competing for his leisure time, his finances
and his intellectual stimulation.”
are we clear on the manner by which Freemasonry, as it is, can fit into this
century in a way that is relevant? The term “competing” is perhaps worrying.
With whom, or with what might Freemasonry be competing and on what basis? If
Freemasonry is perceived to be competing with say the golf club or Rotary,
perhaps its nature is being inadequately defined. If it is being suggested that
Freemasonry’s benefits can be found, comparably, elsewhere, this might
indicate both a serious understatement of its theory and an underachievement in
has been suggested from “the ranks” that, “… Freemasonry
plays an important role in the life of the individual member and his journey of
self discovery.” This is
perhaps more encouraging. The concept of the “individual” is underpinned by
our rationality; that is to say, we are socially produced yet have the potential
to manage our nature and challenge our nurture. As heirs of the Enlightenment we
have an enlightened self-interest; the cable tow, the length of which, being the
measure of our progress in interdependence with others in the acquisition of
food, clothing and shelter - the primary social goods. Vitally, it is the
concept of the individual that presages responsibility and accountability. It is
upon this rock that Freemasonry takes its rise and from whence the journey
begins; but, for what purpose?
metaphor of “life’s journey” is worthy and central to “living the
life”, masonically speaking. The terms, “self discovery” and “daily
progress” are romantic descriptions of education. That is to say, life is a
learning process; what sort of day is it in which we haven’t learned something?
But, what is all this for, why is a journey of education taken at all? The idea
that Freemasonry is to make “good men better” can be considered to be
offensive and a serious understatement. Freemasonry is too important to be
restricted to the male of the species; it is surely there for any person who
seeks a life of continuous improvement. And, this continuous improvement is not
for selfish reasons – far from it. The Freemason seeks individual improvement
in order that the world and the lives thereby touched, are thereby embettered.
Indeed, if there is a Freemason by whose life the world is not improved the view
must be taken that that Freemasonry lacks the breath of life and is an
unconvincing veneer. This has been an enduring theme on some Masonic e-lists for
some time. It is also the mantra of the GL of California. 0h how encouraging!
is appreciated that a few grand words on a grand occasion may not be the
opportunity to launder a PhD; however, surely it is reasonable to expect that
the words uttered on such occasions would be more than tabloidish sound-bytes.
Suggesting that in the contemporary world that, “high standards of public and private life are regarded as an anachronism”
is unhelpful. Morality is relative to human needs, possibilities and
capabilities: therefore it can only be about, humans as they are and laws as
they might be. Perhaps the view can be taken that moral leadership has not
always emanated from the aristocracy.
was most unfortunate that these grand words continued “….that our Masonic principles have enormous relevance, and without
attaching them to a particular cause….” O contraire, unattached
principle is the apotheosis of irrelevance. There is much evidence to suggest
that Freemasons have trod the barricades of serious political change. That is to
say, when the tectonic plates of human structure impacted, Freemasons took
direct political action along the fault lines of the status quo. It is the case
that greater consideration is required to understand the relationship between
Masonic principles and the political activity of Freemasons, especially when on
Freemasons must be human beings of whom it can be said that they are thinking
and caring people. If that is the case, they will not be aware of the three
great, universal/global problems that currently face humankind. They are, (i)
the collapse of the planet’s eco-systems; (ii) the threat to human survival
caused by wars; and, (iii) the substantial levels of poverty around the globe.
be relevant, our Masonic principles must be connected to these three issues or
we do not exist in any meaningful way as an option to the golf club or Rotary.
There is the problematic of globalism and organisations seeking to apply global
solutions; but, unless managed, they could degenerate into a bureaucracy cum
tyranny. Genuine political entities must be united, not in structures but in
understandings of cooperation to thereby address the global problems. However,
there has to be connectivity with people, as they are, in their localities and
townships. People, where they are, must be able to believe that they have some
connection with the identification of both problems and solutions.
these people are, so must the lodge be also. We are not competing for leisure
time; we are proponents of quality universal space and time. Who better than
Freemasons to be at the heart of the community and provide the leadership in
addressing, at the local level, the global problems? We are on a journey of
survival and should be bringing people along with us, a veritable ark of rescue
and refuge, until we can bring about the subsidence of the waters that threaten
to inundate us all.
for globalism read Freemasonry universal. When it comes to the purple of
commerce it is from where most freemasons have taken there rise. Most Freemasons
have risen through its ranks and sought a fairer distribution of goods and
services produced through the purple of commerce.
And, with vision in the ranks of participatory citizenship, humans can
create solutions to the problems they have created in the first place.
Freemasons and their values must be connected to and sustain these processes,
manning the barricades and providing inspirational leadership. Remembering, that
you heard it here first, this linkage of Freemasons thinking universally and
acting locally could perhaps be known as Masonic “glocalism”. That may be
perceived as something like connected relevance.